Connecting man to man to God
For week of January 19, 2014
The weekly newsletter of Path Of Life Ministries.
Our mission is to lead men to Jesus Christ and provide opportunity for Christian men to grow in their faith and minister to others.
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Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt.
– Philippians 2:14 (CEB)
“Others may argue your beliefs, but they’ll be mystified by your love.”
RELIGIOUS HOSTILITY REACHES 6-YEAR HIGH WORLDWIDE
Social hostilities involving religion soared worldwide in 2012, with nearly 3 out of 4 of the world’s people (74%) living in countries with high levels. The surge is stark, given that in 2011 only half of the global population (52%) lived in such countries, while the worldwide level of government restrictions on religion remained largely the same between the two years.
The latest global findings from the Pew Research Center, released two days before Religious Freedom Day in the United States, show that overall restrictions on religion in nearly 200 countries and territories have reached a six-year high, and Christians are harassed in more countries than any other religious group (though Muslims are a close second) …. Read this in full at
“God does not love us because of who we are and what we have done, but because of who God is. Grace flows to all who accept it. Jesus forgave an adulteress, a thief on the cross, a disciple who had denied ever knowing him. Grace is absolute, all-encompassing. It extends even to people who nailed Jesus to the cross: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” were among the last words he spoke on earth.”
– Philip Yancey (b. 1949), Soul Survivor, Hodder & Stoughton, 2001, p. 145
WHEN READING THE BIBLE BECOMES A CHORE: 6 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR BIBLE READING ON TRACK THIS YEAR
by Andy Rau
Should Christians read through the Bible in one year? Christianity Today recently asked some prominent Christian leaders and thinkers whether that’s a good idea. Here’s how Bible Gateway’s general manager Rachel Barach answered: “What’s important is regularly listening to God through his Word. If a reading plan motivates you, use it. But if it becomes a chore that deters you from Scripture, don’t get caught up in the method; remember the reason.”
Several other answers shared Rachel’s hesitance to unconditionally recommend reading through the Bible in a year. At first, that surprised me a little bit — after all, how could a Christian not say “absolutely, yes!” when asked if reading the Bible is a good idea? …. Read this in full at
…is Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
“God has become Man! From henceforth God is no absentee impersonal Omnipotence. God and Man are indissolubly linked. God has not only made His Personal Visit, not only given us the pattern of true and happy living, not only died to reconcile us to Himself, not only risen again both to shatter the fear of death and to prove His own claims, but there is no barrier now between Him and us. God in Christ is our Contemporary, and if that is not Good News it would be difficult to know what is!”
– J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), God With Us: a Message for Christmas, London: Epworth Press, 1957, p. 12
‘DUCK DYNASTY’ PROMPTING SCHOOL LUNCH PRAYER CLUBS
A new trend: Duck Dynasty clubs at school?
Sadie Robertson, 16, the daughter of Duck Dynasty’s Korie and Willie Robertson, told an audience in Montgomery, Ala., that her family’s famous reality show is leading students to pray before lunch at schools across the country…. Read this in full at
NEW PRESIDENT CHOSEN FOR AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY
American Bible Society has selected Dr. Roy Peterson, who is currently serving as president and CEO of The Seed Company, to be the next president of American Bible Society. Peterson will assume his new position in February in the ministry’s Manhattan office.
Peterson joined The Seed Company in 2003 after serving with Wycliffe USA and its affiliates. In 1997, he was appointed president and CEO of Wycliffe USA, a role he continued until leaving for his current position with The Seed Company. During his tenure at Wycliffe USA, he spent eight years in Ecuador and Guatemala, serving in various leadership positions. Prior to his ministry work, Peterson held management positions with U.S. Shoe Corporation, Florsheim Corporation and American Greetings Corporation…. Read this in full at
“Faith always means helplessness. In many cases it means: I can do it with a great deal of trouble, but another can do it better. But in most cases it is utter helplessness; another must do it for me. And that is the secret of the spiritual life.”
– Andrew Murray (1828-1917), Absolute Surrender, Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1897, p. 103
4 CHARACTERISTICS OF CONTROL FREAKS
by Clare De Graaf
Most of us know controlling people. But it’s rare that any of us see ourselves as controlling. I’ve always been driven. I still am. But, since I came to faith I think I can get away with it because it has the veneer of spirituality.
So, the reason I can write so easily of these four characteristics is that I’m occasionally guilty of all of them. By the grace of God, I’m better than I was. But, I’m a recovering control freak who still falls off the wagon far too often. Perhaps you too need to be in “control” recovery.
You may be a control freak if…
1. You generally think you have a better way of doing most things than those around you.
OK, you don’t really want to control other peoples’ lives you just want to help them make better choices, right? You can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to learn how they could live more wisely, biblically, be more organized, or manage their money better. Sound like anyone you know? …. Read this in full at
WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT
“Instead of worshiping God “in spirit” (recognizing that he is spirit himself and asks for spiritual worship), idolaters become preoccupied with external, visible, and tangible objects. Even the worship of the people of Israel had a constant tendency to degenerate into formalism and even blatant hypocrisy. The 7th and 8th century [BC] prophets were scathing in their denunciation of Israel’s empty religion, and Jesus applied their criticism to the Pharisees of his own day: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.'”
So whatever outward forms we may use in Christian worship (liturgies, processions, drama, ritual, kneeling or raising our arms), we need to ensure that they escape the charge of idolatry by passing the double test of being “in spirit and in truth.”
– John R. W. Stott (1921-2011), Basic Christianity, Nottingham, U.K.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008, third edition, p. 94-95
GOD’S WONDEROUS MERCY
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.
… Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), Hymns Selected from Frederick William Faber, Part 4, Northampton, Mass.: Bridgman and Childs, 1867, p. 54-55
RACE CAR DRIVER SURVIVED HORRIBLE CRASH, MADE A COMEBACK WITH GOD
by Mark Ellis
In 2001 Davey Hamilton finished his sixth Indiy 500 race and then went to compete in the Texas 500. As he screamed around the track at over 200 miles per hour, another car’s blown engine caused a horrific crash that changed the course of his life.
“It was another race, nothing spectacular,” Hamilton recalls. But then driver Jeret Schroeder lost his engine and Schroeder’s car barely nicked the back of Hamilton’s car. Suddenly Hamilton’s car was spinning toward the wall and went airborne – headed the wrong way.
“I went above the wall and the poles that hold the chain link fencing sheared the front of my car off, leaving my legs exposed,” he recalls…. Read this in full at
TO TOUCH HIS GARMENT
“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on Earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, smile into His eyes–ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.”
– Jim Elliot (1927-1956), The Journals of Jim Elliot, ed. Elisabeth Elliot, Revell, 1990, p. 309
UCONN PRESIDENT SAYS ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH WAS WRONG TO INVOKE RELIGION
When UConn assistant football coach Ernest Jones talked about spirituality in his role as director of player engagement, he set off a controversy that prompted the school president to say that “employees can’t appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work or in their interactions with students.”
Jones, also the running backs coach, told The Courant in a story Sunday that “we’re going to make sure [players] understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important.” He also implied that head coach Bob Diaco felt the same way…. Read this in full at
PHILIPPIANS 4:13: HOW MANY CHRISTIANS MISUSE THE ICONIC VERSE
by Jonathan Merritt
On July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured an arresting image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. The headline—“Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions”—riffed on the way he’d created a fan frenzy with his unique blend of faith and football. The championship quarterback seemed poised to jump off the glossy cover with pursed lips that oozed determination and a simple Bible verse scribbled within the black grease underneath his eyes: “Phil. 4:13.”
Tebow’s highly churched Southern fan base didn’t need to look up the passage. No, most of them knew it by heart: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in any of the 66 books of the Christian Bible, having been printed on millions of key chains and t-shirts, cellphone cases and coffee mugs. (If one wanted to argue the trinketization of Christianity, this Bible verse would be a good starting point.)
But it also one of the misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted…. Read this in full at
HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR “RESOLUTIONS” DOING?
by Bill Ellis
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, fully expecting to keep them. As I begin writing this column, there is just one hour left in 2013. I will finish it sometime after January 1, 2014. I have finally reached the age when years seem to come and go at a faster rate of speed.
We may recall that a year once seemed to be very long. I can remember those days, but they are now an important part of my past. I remember well the first day I arrived in Decatur, Illinois to set up residence in that great and enjoyable city. I had no idea how long I would be there.
One of my predecessors, the Rev. Kenneth C. Tabor, great preacher of television fame, was there for eight years. The next two, the brilliant Dr. Kenneth Jones, who wrote books and hundreds of articles, became a college dean. The Rev. Elmer Case, who was known for his administrative ability and served one of the church’s national boards, followed Tabor. They each stayed about two years…. Read this in full at
THIS YEAR’S MARCH FOR LIFE REACHES A NEW GROUP: EVANGELICALS
by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Evangelicals are the most likely religious group to say that abortion should be illegal in all cases. So why would organizers of the March for Life, the annual demonstration on the Washington Mall, hire someone to reach out to that group?
The 41st march, scheduled for Jan. 22, has traditionally had a strong Catholic presence, with priests and nuns marching on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Its founder, Nellie Gray, who died in 2012, was Roman Catholic, as well as is her successor, Jeanne Monahan…. Read this in full at
“Indeed, if God is All and His Word to us is All, that must mean that He is the reality and controlling factor of every situation, religious or secular; and that it is only for His glory and creative purpose that it exists. Therefore our favourite distinction between the spiritual life and the practical life is false. We cannot divide them. One affects the other all the time.” Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), The Spiritual Life, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937, reprinted, Morehouse Publishing, 1985, p. 35
VERSE TO PONDER
Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8:31-32 (CEB)
“The miracles of Jesus were the ordinary works of his Father, wrought small and swift that we might take them in.”
– George MacDonald
WHERE DO YOU READ THE BIBLE? BIBLE GATEWAY VISITORS SHARE THEIR ANSWERS
In a recent online poll, visitors to the Bible Gateway blog were asked where they most often read the Bible. Thousands of readers responded; here’s what they shared.
A full 30% of poll respondents say they read their Bible most often in a study room in their home. Not far behind are those who say they read “everywhere” because they use a mobile Bible app (19%).
The next most common location for Bible reading is in bed before drifting off to sleep (19%), followed by church (6%), the dinner table (5%), at the office (5%), in a Bible study group (3%), and during their commute to work (1%). Twelve percent say they read the Bible most often in other locations…. Read this in full at
BEAR THE SWORD
“Let us live, then, as Christ’s servants under no delusive dreams; for life will not be easier, but harder, infinitely harder if you are to be His soldiers against sin, the world, and the devil. Embrace if you will the banner of Love, Love flaming, intolerant, revolution incarnate. Follow Christ to joy and to worship, to exultation and to agony. But never for an hour or an instant, never forget–it is not peace, but a sword that you bear and wield.”
– John Neville Figgis (1866-1919), The Gospel and Human Needs, London: Longman’s, Green & Co., 1911, p. 153-154
THE SACRIFICE OF FORGIVENESS
“Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who “forgives” you–out of love–takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice.”
– Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), Markings, tr. Leif Sjoberg & W. H. Auden, (q.v.), New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964 (post.), p. 197
AIR FORCE CHAPLAIN SHARES HOW HE SURVIVED DIFFICULT IRAQ DEPLOYMENT
by Chuck Seligman
As I reflect on the nature of our Air Force, I use my own career thus far as a measuring stick. When I reached my first duty assignment at Hurlburt Field (Fla.), it was a special one. We were spec ops (special operations) and not part of any expeditionary force rotation. That meant we were too busy being deployed all the time to really be able to fit into an AEF. And sure enough in my first 18 months at Hurlburt, I was gone 10.
They say faith is best lived in the past, and when I look into my ministry past I see lots of mobile ministry and not a whole lot of time to do great big things at one location. I entered active duty on 14 February 2002 (42 months of service to-date) and have spent 14 months deployed and another three months on TDY assignments (training for war). So thanks to my one year on a profile as non-deployable, only 40 percent of my career, thus far, has been spent directly supporting the war on terror either through deployments or training for deployment ministry. What I see from this is the nature of our military in a post 9-11 environment. When I first joined the military, we were in the middle of Desert Shield. After Desert Storm people began to talk about the possibility of being deployed at least once in their career. I was briefed to prepare myself and family for at least that possibility. How our world has changed. And with the change in our military needs, the men and women of America have continually said I can provide combat airpower for America. And here I am for the past four months surrounded by those who have been doing just that. How proud we can all be of these who have come and all of those who will soon come in their due time…. Read this in full at
THE VASTNESS WITHIN
“The widest thing in the universe is not space, it is the potential capacity of the human heart. Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions… [Christians] should seek for inner enlargement till their outward dimension gives no hint of the vastness within.”
– A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Root of the Righteous, Christian Publications, 1955, p. 112-113
WHY MILLENNIALS LONG FOR LITURGY
by Gracy Olmstead
America’s youth are leaving churches in droves. One in four young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion, according to a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll, and 55 percent of those unaffiliated youth once had a religious identification when they were younger. Yet amidst this exodus, some church leaders have identified another movement as cause for hope: rather than abandoning Christianity, some young people are joining more traditional, liturgical denominations — notably the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox branches of the faith. This trend is deeper than denominational waffling: it’s a search for meaning that goes to the heart of our postmodern age.
For Bart Gingerich, a fellow with the Institute on Religion and Democracy and a student at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, becoming Anglican was an intellectual journey steeped in the thought of ancient church fathers. He spent the first 15 years of his life in the United Methodist Church, where he felt he was taught a “Precious Moments” version of Christianity: watered down, polite, and unreal. His family joined a nondenominational evangelical church when Gingerich was 16. Some of the youth he met were serious about their faith, but others were apathetic, and many ended up leaving the church later on…. Read this in full at
SPEAKER AT GOVERNOR’S PRAYER BREAKFAST CALLS FOR YEAR OF KINDNESS
Hal Donaldson remembers the day well: It was August of 1969, and he was 12 years old. His parents were off to a business meeting, and Donaldson and his three siblings were home with a babysitter.
But his parents never made it to that meeting. On the way there, their car was hit by a drunk driver.
A policeman came to the house, and neighbors crowded around as the officer told Donaldson and his siblings the news: Their father had been killed, and their mother, severely injured.
The officer looked at the crowd of neighbors and asked whether anyone could take care of the four children in for the night.
Then, Bill and Louvada Davis spoke up. They could take care of the children. And they did – not just that night, but for months afterward.
The Davises didn’t have much space – they lived in a single-wide trailer, and taking in the Donaldson children meant 10 people would be crammed inside. But what they did have was kindness, and it changed Donaldson’s life.
Now, he works to extend kindness to others – he’s the CEO of a Springfield-based humanitarian aid organization called Convoy of Hope.
The story of the Davis family’s kindness was one of many stories he told at the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast on Thursday (Jan. 9) in Jefferson City as the featured speaker…. Read this in full at
REPORT CALLS ON POLICY MAKERS TO MAKE HAPPINESS A KEY MEASURE AND TARGET OF DEVELOPMENT
As heads of state get ready for the United Nations General Assembly in two weeks, the second World Happiness Report further strengthens the case that well-being should be a critical component of how the world measures its economic and social development. The report is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Leading experts in several fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. The Report is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Director of the SDSN, and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General.
“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” said Professor Jeffery Sachs. “More and more world leaders are talking about the importance of well-being as a guide for their nations and the world. The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable development.” …. Read this in full at
“No other circumstances than those in which we find ourselves at this moment could achieve His highest purpose for our lives. Our need is not so much a change of circumstances as a change of attitude toward them.”
– J. Oswald Sanders (1902-1992), In Pursuit of Maturity, Grand Rapids: Lamplighter Books, 1986
VERSE TO PONDER
If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.
– 1 John 4:20-21 (CEB)
THIS WEEK’S HYMN: LIGHT OF THE GENTILE NATIONS
Words: Johann Franck, 1674; translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1863)
Music: Johann Crüger, 1653
Light of the Gentile nations,
Thy people’s joy and love,
Dawn by Thy Spirit hither,
We gladly come to prove
Thy presence in Thy temple,
And wait with earnest mind,
As Simeon once had waited
His Savior God to find.
Yes, Lord, Thy servants meet Thee,
Ev’n now, in ev’ry place,
Where Thy true Word hath promised
That they should see Thy face.
Thou yet wilt gently grant us,
Who gather round Thee here,
In faith’s strong arms to bear Thee,
As once that aged seer.
Be Thou our joy, our brightness,
That shines ’mid pain and loss,
Our Sun in times of terror,
The glory round our cross;
A glow in sinking spirits,
A sunbeam in distress,
Physician, friend in sickness;
In death our happiness.
Let us, O Lord, be faithful
With Simeon to the end,
That so his dying song may
From all our hearts ascend;
“O Lord, now let Thy servant
Depart in peace for aye,
Since I have seen my Savior,
Have here beheld His day.”
My Savior, I behold Thee
Now with the eye of faith;
No foe of Thee can rob me,
Though bitter words he saith;
Within Thy heart abiding,
As Thou dost dwell in me,
No pain, no death has terrors
To part my soul from Thee!
>from NetHymnal at
“Prayer is insistence upon God’s will being done. It needs for its practice a man in sympathetic touch with God. Its basis is Jesus’ victory. It overcomes the opposing will of the great traitor-leader.”
– Samuel Dickey Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1904, p. 124
PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS TODAY
DAILY BLESSING PACT
Use the following list as your daily prayer guide. Think of a brother or situation that applies and lift them up in prayer.
I am agreeing in prayer with you for God’s blessings to overtake you!
Favor with God and man
Be in God’s will
Raises or bonuses
Sales & commissions
Estates & inheritances
Rebates & returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts & surprises
Money to be found
Bills decrease while blessings increase
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deut. 28:2).
[As you travel on business or vacation, let me know if you'd like us to add you to our prayer chain to pray for your safety and spiritual effectiveness. I'll add your name to the list for the time you'll be away.]
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CONNECTIONS is a periodic newsletter of announcements, news, recommendations, articles, and other information helpful to men in our spiritual growth. Thanks for welcoming CONNECTIONS into your in-box!
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